Einstein and his General Theory

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Originaly handed in 11/6/98 Submitted to School Sucks 11/9/98 ALBERT EINSTEIN 1879-1955 Einstein 1879-1955 Probably the most recognized figure in the science world today is that of Albert Einstein. One of the few scientists who revolutionized the entire Physics field and the way we think, he is responsible for ideas as grand and complex as the relationships that exist between time and gravity, to why the sky is blue, an issue now considered to be fundamental. Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany into a middle-class Jewish family. A year later, they moved to Munich, were Albert grew up. In elementary school, his success was less then admirable. At the age of twelve, he was given a book on Geometry, he instantly fell in love. He found that his studies were much more successful outside of the classroom. In1894, his family moved to Italy. Einstein stayed behind to finish his studies. In 1895, he applied for admission to the Zurich Polytechnic Institute. He was denied acceptance, due to the fact that his previous curriculum was completely science centered. He was forced to complete another year of secondary school, before he was admitted to the institute in 1896. While at school, he met Mileva Maric, the woman he would marry in 1903, and go on to father two children with. Upon graduation from the institute, he took a job as an examiner at the Swiss patent office in Bern. At night, he would work on his Physics, and his own theories. His first works were published in 1904, and dealt with statistical thermodynamics, but not anything that wasn't already known in the physics field. He first made a name for himself in 1905, with the publishing of his series of papers, titled: Annalen der Physik. The first paper "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light" linked statistical thermodynamics to light radiation, by using results that had been obtained five years earlier by Max Planck. This paper dealt with the way light is distributed among the spectrum, and particles he called Light Quanta. The idea was not accepted right off the bat. It wasn't until more than a decade later, when Robert Millikan verified Einstein's theory of light quanta that the idea was recognized. The second paper in the series was entitled "On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid Demanded by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat." This piece studied the erratic movement of particles suspended in a liquid, with this, Einstein showed direct evidence of the existence of both molecules and atoms. The most significant of his 1905 papers, however, was "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies." The subject of this paper is what has come to be known as the Special Theory of Relativity. It dealt with the relationship between physical measurement made while traveling at a constant velocity. Here, he showed that whether or not two events occurred simultaneously was all relative to the observer. In other words, measurements of duration are all relative to the observer. Another amazing Einstein discovery of 1905 was revealed in the paper "Does the inertia of a Body Depend on its Energy Content?" This drew its conclusion from the principle of relativity. Its conclusion? When the energy content of a body changes, its mass must also change. This conclusion lead to the formula: E=Mc2. It took the next decade following Einstein's big year for all of this new information to settle with the Physics community. He was made a professor at the University of Zurich in 1909, German University in Prague in 1911, and at his old stomping ground, the Zurich Polytechnic Institute in 1912. Finally, he was offered a position as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin. He would stay there from 1914 to 1933. During his stint in Berlin, he divorced his wife, and married his first cousin Elsa Einstein. Also, while he was in Berlin, in 1915, he developed and proved his General Theory of Relativity (See Section Two). In essence, he developed the idea that both light, and therefore time are affected by gravity. This idea was verified in 1919 during a solar eclipse, where it was determined that the sun was altering the path of star light. This lead to a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for Albert Einstein. Einstein had become something of a celebrity, and due to this, he and Elsa were on a trip to the United States in 1933, when the Nazis came to power. He and his wife vowed never to return to Germany. He was given a research and teaching post at Princeton, and took U.S. citizenship. He always opposed, and spoke out against the Nazi government. In 1939, Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, warning him of Germany's capability to produce an atomic bomb. Einstein was a strong pacifist, and was opposed to the building of weapons of mass destruction. The irony is that it was Einstein's discovery of E=Mc2 that made the production of the A-bomb a possibility. For the rest of his life, Einstein worked on the idea of a Unified Field Theory to no avail, but helped to promote pacifism, and the United Nations. He died 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey. EINSTEIN'S GENERAL RELATIVITY THEORY Developed from 1911-1915, Einstein's view of gravity's effects on the universe, including both light and time became one of his most famous theories. The proof of his ideas ended up earning Einstein a Nobel Prize for Physics. The basic idea is that the universe in which we exist is four dimensional. The four dimensions are length, width, height, and time. Space without matter can be thought of as a flat plane. Newton's ideas figured that gravity was a mutual attraction of all material objects, and that this was how the universe worked. Newton believed that everything existed on this flat plane. Einstein had a new idea. He believed that gravity could affect more than just material objects. He felt that light, and consequently time were subject to the same law. He felt that the gravity of matter created divots in the fabric of space time. His theory views space time as a tightly stretched sheet of rubber. If a massive object is placed in the center, it creates a divot. If a smaller object is rolled along the rubber towards the object, because of the bend in the rubber, it will naturally role towards the more massive object. This was Einstein's idea of how orbits were formed. A massive object creates a depression in space-time, and smaller objects following a straight path ends up in an orbit. In other words, matter "tells" space-time how to bend, and bent space-time "tells" matter how to move. Einstein got this idea, when thinking about someone in freefall. The person does not feel the effects of gravity, they have a sense of weightlessness. If all material objects had a uniform attraction, this would not occur. Einstein also believed that light was bent by gravity. This was proved, in turn proving the theory a few years later. In 1919, there was a complete solar eclipse. The moon's shadowing of the sun allowed stars to be seen during the day. According to Einstein's theory, the starlight passing close to the sun would be bent, and the visible stars would appear in a different position. This was the case. Einstein was right. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. A prediction in the theory was an object so massive in space that any light passing by would not be able to escape the gravity. A place from which light could not escape: a black hole. With the Hubble Space Telescope, the existence of black holes has been verified. The public was satisfied teaching the Newtonian principles of gravity, but Einstein was not. Thanks to him we now have a much more comprehensive view of our universe. But, who knows? In 100 more years, we may have altered our opinions just as greatly as opinions were changed by Albert Einstein in 1915. WORKS CITED Asimov, Isaac. The History of Physics. Walker and Co.:New York. 1966 Evans, Barry. The Wrong Way Comet and Other Mysteries of Our Solar System. Tab Books: Blue Ridge, PA. 1992 Gardner, Martin. The Relativity Explosion. Random House: New York. 1976 Gribbin, John. Time and Space. Dorling Kendersly: London. 1994 Infeld, Leopold. Albert Einstein. Scribner's Sons: New York. 1950 Rucker, Rudolf B. Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension. Dover Products: New York. 1977

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